Hallux Valgus – per medical definition this is medial deviation of the 1st metatarsal and lateral deviation of the great toe.
I see plenty of clients coming in with this problem, but not for this problem. Usually their complaint is somewhere in the hips, knees, back, or neck. What these clients almost never consider, is that the two are connected. They most certainly are, and that is a discussion for another time.
What is the cause of Hallux Valgus?
Conventional wisdom theorizes that Hallux Valgus is caused by a combination of poor genetics and ill fitting shoes. They are right, in my opinion. Some peoples genetics makes them more susceptible to the dangers of wearing shoes. Shoes support the foot, supporting the foot lessens the requirement for the foot to maintain it’s mechanics – so as the foot weakens from the shoe, the more the foot requires the shoe. Eventually the end-game is an orthotic, which completely interrupts the foots natural ability to pronate and alters the entire kinetic chain. Zipfel and Burger (2007) observed that shod populations exhibit far more deformities of the foot than unshod populations, very much counter to our popular belief for the necessity of shoes (1). For more anthropologic evidence and discussion concerning the history of the human foot & shoes, read this fantastic article.
Is Hallux Valgus & its Associated Ailments Permanent?
Traditional wisdom would say yes – I’m inclined to say no. The bones of the foot have been deformed due to Wolff’s Law – the bone deforms due to the stresses placed on it. Remove those improper stressors, restore normal biomechanics, stress the bones properly and normal function can be restored. Every bone in the adult body remodels at a rate of 10% per year. Reforming it in the right direction would require time, dedication, and stressing the foot in the proper direction in as much the same way as it was ignored and stressed in the wrong direction for many years. I have no proof or studies to cite to support this argument, just basic logic and a lot of exposure to the limited reductionist approach most therapeutic interventions take.
To solve a problem in any system, we must have knowledge of that system, the ability to test the pieces of that system, and to make change in the system – this is true of all systems, whether that is a computer, smartphone, biological ecosystem, or the human body.
In the case of the foot, I generally follow a step-by-step process:
- Assess the position of the foot (via AiM)
- Assess movement of the foot & body
- Test function of the muscles of the foot using NKT™
- Analyze my findings, develop a theory
- Restore muscular function using ART® & P-DTR
- Get the foot & body to experience optimal movement (via AiM)
- Repeat Steps 5-6 as time allows
- Reinforce correct foot positioning using Rocktape
- Assign corrective exercise homework for the foot
In addition to this I always have a recommendation for new shoes, and new lifestyle habits. After all, doing the same thing and expecting different results would be the definition of insanity. Don’t settle for pain. Contact me for your initial appointment.
(1) – Zipfel, B., and L. R. Berger. 2007. Shod versus unshod: The emergence of forefoot pathology in modern humans? The Foot 17: 205–213. doi:10.1016/j.foot.2007.06.002